Everyone Just Believes What Their Family And Culture Believe: So Why Believe In Jesus?

My friend George sent me a direct message on Twitter with this question. My answer quickly became too long for that medium so I put it in a blog post. Props to my friend George for asking such a great question.

George wrote: What do you think of this quote, I see a lot of truth to it…. “Isn’t it a remarkable coincidence almost everyone has the same religion as their parents? And it always just happens to be the right religion. Religions run in families. If we’d been brought up in ancient Greece we would all be worshiping Zeus and Apollo. If we had been born Vikings we would be worshiping Wotan and Thor. How does this come about? Through childhood indoctrination.” Richard Dawkins

It’s great to hear from you George! And that’s a really great question too. I’m not a scholar or a genius by any means, I’m just a regular guy who loves Jesus so all I have to offer are my own thoughts based on what I’ve learned over the last few years. The following is just the way I think about this question.

So for me it starts with the credibility of the Christian scriptures. If they’re false, then we’re left looking for God in other places. But if they’re true, then they’re true. If they’re true, even though I don’t understand why God would allow all these other religions in all these other cultures and in the families who live within those cultures, they, the Christian scriptures, are still true.

Concerning the reliability of the scriptures, I’ve been influenced by C.S. Lewis, because he was an expert in mythology, fluent in Greek, the original language of many of the myths, including those listed by Mr. Dawkins. So he was fluent in Greek and he even wrote in the original language of the Viking myths (also listed). As a professor at Oxford and Cambridge Lewis read myths every day. And he said of the gospels, “I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this.”

Lewis was an atheist until he became convinced of the reality of Christianity through his own expert recognition of the Christian scriptures as genuine. (And also through the influence of his friend J.R.R. Tolkien.)

And I agree with Lewis. I’m convinced that the gospels are real: that they’re reliable documentation of historical events. So if they’re true, and if Jesus is who he says he is, then there’s nothing to do but hang on Jesus’ every word, because he’s the Son of God. Which brings us back to Mr. Dawkin’s comment about the families who believe in other religions.

The problem with that thinking is, if something is true, then it doesn’t matter what a given family or culture believes. It’s like when a lot of cultures around the world believed in bloodletting to cure diseases. The bloodletting often killed the patient. If you happened to be born into a family of a culture that bought into bloodletting, you had a problem if you fell ill. The truth is, bloodletting does more harm than good, and sometimes kills. That’s the truth regardless of what your family or culture believes.

It’s a difficult thing but in the end each of us is responsible for the truth whatever our families or culture happen to believe. I happen to be raised by a dad who was agnostic, leaning toward atheism. And I was an atheist through my teens and early twenties. But as an adult, I was responsible to do my own research concerning the question of God, and I did. And from what I found, I came to believe the Christian scriptures are true and so I became a follower of Jesus.

Here’s something else: according to Jesus, it’s apparent that some people born into Christian families won’t be accepted into heaven. He said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (See Matthew 7:21-23)

And Jesus also said to the Jews that some of them would be left out, “And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:22-30)

“…from east and west, and from north and south…” So people will come into the kingdom of heaven from all over the world, regardless of which family or culture they were born into. Earlier in this same passage Jesus also makes reference to some in heaven who lived and died before Jesus’ incarnation. (Check out Luke chapter 13)

So George, for me, I guess what it really comes down to is do I agree with the way God is running the universe. Do I agree with the way He set this up. I know I wouldn’t do it this way if I were God. But if you think it through, it doesn’t make sense that we would understand how the Creator of all there is does things. He’s the One who created quarks, and black holes, and oceans, and mountains, and atoms, and electrons, and clouds, and comets. He created the 100 trillion cells that make up my body. He’s the one who created 100 billion galaxies. So there’s no way we’re going to understand everything about the God who created all that. It’s not surprising that we often don’t understand how He does things. What would be surprising is if we did understand everything the Creator of the universe does.

For me the real issue is, can I trust God? And for me, I believe He is perfectly fair, perfectly just, perfectly merciful, and perfectly loving. Whatever He does with the souls of the world, I trust Him to do what’s best.

That’s just how I see it George.

Hope this helps.

Your friend and brother in Jesus,

Kurt

Why Wouldn’t You Do This? (If you’re a follower of Christ)

How to live like a Christian“In this life, we can do only a few things really well; I think it’s a good idea to make certain that one of those things is what Jesus says is most important.” –Brian Mavis

I think we can all agree that’s true. In this life, we can only do a few things well. With that in mind, why wouldn’t one of those things be what Jesus says is most important? If you’re not a follower of Christ, then it doesn’t matter. But if you are a follower of Christ…

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” –Jesus Christ, Matthew 22:36-39

(From the book The Art of Neighboringby Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon)

Image via  Leland Francisco – Creative Commons

I Am Not The Christ (And neither are you)

I am not the Christ John the Baptist

And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” John 1:19-20

I have failed as a leader. As a father, most importantly, and also as a leader in the fire department. Many of the scraps of wisdom you read on this blog come from my failures. I offer what I offer so you don’t have to fail where I did. You can learn from experience but it doesn’t have to be your own. I invite you to learn from mine. And this idea that I am not the Christ, that was one of my greatest failures of all.

Maybe you’re saying to yourself right now, “That’s not a problem for me. Of course I know I’m not the Christ.” If that’s you then let me just say, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about intellectual understanding. I’m talking about behavior. In my case, I was one of those people: a type A personality. I tried–to the point of exhaustion–to be the rising sun of my organization and my family: simultaneously.

It doesn’t work.

I can tell you (because I’ve lived it) that when you forget you’re not the Christ you’ll fail. More specifically, you’ll tend to experience the following 5 problems: Continue reading

The 2 Reasons We Don’t Recognize God’s Personality

is God a person

(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. John 1:15-18

The Law And It’s Result

“…the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The law was given through Moses, and what did we get when all we had was the law? When Moses was up on the mountain receiving the law, receiving the stone tablets engraved with the ten commandments, he was gone from the people for awhile. And the people grew tired of waiting. They gave up on Moses, and they gave up on God Himself too. They created their own thing to worship, an idol, and they threw a party. And when Moses finally came down from the mountain and saw what had happened, he was devastated. He broke the stone tablets in anger and 3,000 of the idol worshippers died that day. (Exodus Chapter 32)

The law brings death, because we can’t measure up to it, we can’t meet that standard. The law is important, even as we saw in the last blog post on John 1:14, because the law is truth. The law reveals the truth of our sin. And the wages of sin is death. So the truth of the law is essential. It’s the educator, as Paul said, yet it brings death. (Galatians 3:24)

Jesus’ Grace And Truth

But then came Jesus. Continue reading

Black and White Pastors Swap Pulpits To Promote Racial Unity

These guys are amazing: Initiative Network. God’s using them to accomplish some great things–among them–a black and a white pastor swap pulpits.

DALLAS — From a disturbing fraternity chant to protests over the police shootings of black teens,tensions have flared recently over race relations in America.

But on Palm Sunday, two Dallas pastors from opposite sides of the city found a new way to deliver a powerful message to their congregations.

They traded pulpits for a day, preaching to the other’s church.

Read the rest of the story. (USA TODAY)

If you’re interested in learning about the people God’s using to accomplish this sort of thing, check out this video from InitiativeNetwork.org.

The Grace/Truth Equation

Grace/Truth Equation

Never Bored Again

I was talking with a thirty-something last night and he and I both concluded we never feel bored. Maybe that’s not surprising. There’s Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. There’s podcasts, blogs, and Google searches. There are 300 hours of new video uploaded to Youtube–every minute, more than 150,000 new Reddit posts and submissions each day, and at the bottom of every Google News category there’s a link that says, “More Sci/Tech stories,” or “More Sports stories,” or “More U.S. stories,” or “More World stories.”

More.

There’s more amazing information available to occupy our attention than ever before. (And I haven’t even touched on TV, music, movies, and video games.)

I love living at this point in the time-space continuum where we can have such an incredible amount of information available to us. I love doing research. I love checking out Youtube videos, articles, and subreddits in my areas of interest. But there’s a catch. Continue reading

Unlikely by Kevin Palau: A Book Review

Unlikely by Kevin PalauSome of you might be offended by this book review. If you find yourself beginning to lean in that direction I hope and pray you’ll read the entire article and, more importantly, read Kevin Palau’s book, Unlikely. I’m convinced God’s Holy Spirit is behind this movement.

Palau’s Purpose

Palau’s purpose in writing this book is to tell the amazing story of what God is doing in and around the city of Portland, Oregon. God does amazing things in many cities, but His work in Portland is evidence He can do what He wants, when He wants, wherever He wants. Because Portland is weird (and they like it that way). Portland is a place where 8,000, many of whom are naked, cycle through the streets to remind people of the positive impact cycling has on the environment. Continue reading

“All they had was the real, living presence of Jesus Christ…”

Speaking of the early church in the Roman Empire, Kevin Palau writes:

“All they had was the real, living presence of Jesus Christ himself–living in them through the Holy Spirit, giving them what they needed to bear witness and radically love in ways the world could not explain.” From Palau’s book Unlikely)

Unlikely is one of the most important books I’ve read in years. It’s just what I needed to hear. You might have the same reaction: Unlikely: Setting Aside Our Differences to Live Out the Gospel

Why Women Are More Amazing Than Men (And what women have in common with Jesus Christ)

what women and Jesus have in common

“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:11-13

Women Are More Amazing Than Men

Women are amazing, aren’t they? I mean, they have an ability no man has. They have the ability to Continue reading

Every day that goes by I’m less impressed

Every day that goes by I’m less impressed with me, and more impressed with Jesus.

8/1/15 Edit: So after finishing the blog post for Saturday, August 1, 2015, I just googled this statement to see if anyone else might have said something similar. And I noticed that I misspelled Jesus’ name. (It’s now corrected.)

Now I’m even less impressed.